Subscription services have really taken off this last decade. From meal boxes to monthly gifts and even more so in the digital space, from podcasts to movies, most people are subscribed to something.
The unique positioning of subscription services is that after the initial sign up, the only key interaction they have with the customer is taking payment or delivering the product. This means the customer experience team needs to do a lot of work to gain trust upfront before the initial purchase is made, and there is a lot of pressure to deliver exceptionally on that promise.
So how do the best ones keep their customers engaged, and subscribed?
Here are a few best practices, and the great thing is: They’re not limited to subscription-based products. Any customer-oriented company can incorporate these techniques.
A product that keeps people coming back for more
First things first, you need to deliver an exceptional product time after time. Hello Fresh does this really well. It is the largest meal-kit provider in the USA and has operations throughout Europe and New Zealand as well. It has been going strong since 2011.
From a clean and easy-to-use website to a service that allows for flexibility without compromising on quality, they have made their years of experience work for them. They have shared their reviews throughout their website which provides a near-constant endorsement from other people, just like you and me.
Everyone loves bells and whistles, but if your core product isn’t meeting a need or fulfilling a desire, no amount of sparkle can sustain the relationship. This is where knowing your product deeply, identifying and engaging with your ideal customer early on is vital.
Deliver an unforgettable experience
If your product is a physical one, the delivery is the moment of truth when your engagement shifts from the digital to the physical. Make it an event.
The packaging is a key part of the delivery experience that should not be overlooked. Then consider any marketing or instructional information within the package. You can use all of it to delight and engage your customer.
Once your customer has decided to purchase, managing their expectations around delivery is crucial. Use entertaining or value-adding emails or notifications pre-delivery to show your brand personality.
If you deliver a delightful experience, you can add even more of a personal touch by checking that their expectations were met.
FabFitFun is well known for its unique, yet instantly recognisable boxes. They ship four boxes a year, centred around products per season.
While all the boxes carry their logo and have an aesthetic that is easily recognisable, the boxes are themed to the season. Think flowers for spring and snowflakes in winter.
By allowing customers to customize their delivery with certain products, FabFitFun creates a sense of expectation, with customers excited for the items they handpicked and filled with anticipation for the surprise items too. These little extras not only immediately add a level of extra luxury for the customer, but they also go a long way to create a brand ‘memory’.
Don’t hide in the Ts&Cs
The best subscription services are very clear about cancelling and key billing dates to make sure that the customer always has a choice around that next shipment.
Kaffebox.no does a great job of this. From banners at the top of the page showing the timeline to the next delivery date to their FAQs referencing a number of ways to access their robust refund policy, it is easy to see why so many people are happy to give them a shot!
In the single purchase world, the equivalent for this is around special offers, returns and refund policies. Make these clear and simple to use. Your goal needs to be customers wanting the products they have, not feeling trapped into buying or keeping them.
The above strategies are really good examples of best practices, but they only really shine once you have already gotten the customer to buy into your brand, or at least be tempted to buy.
Everyone loves a good story
This one goes one step back. You want a story so compelling, that your customer will not shop around, compare on price or try and figure out a value offering. Rather, you want the customer to crave joining your community or tribe, or (even better), you want them to get in on the ground floor and help develop your offering.
Estrid, a Swedish brand is a fantastic example of this. Tackling the controversial topic of women’s products being far more expensive than the same product when marketed to men, and adding a sustainable and ergonomic product design, it is easy to see why they have seen such rapid growth.
Their message is an empowering one, they don’t insist women need to shave to be seen as appealing (as most traditional advertising does), but rather focuses on giving women something designed to make it easy for the women who do.
Contact, Touch and Engage
Make the most of the opportunities to interact with your customer. Product development questions can often get you much further than just asking for reviews.
Wild, a natural deodorant that offers a one-time case purchase and subscription on refills, does a great job with getting consumer feedback on what scents to develop next. They set it up by asking very specific questions and end off with a totally open-ended one, leaving the customer to feel like they can make a huge impact on what they can choose from next.
Participation in user testing or opinion pieces for blog articles is another option. And, contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to give away something for free. Where there is considerable brand love, customers will be happy to support you and proud to have their views valued and made public.
And that’s five strategies for you to lift your customer experience! What do you think? Are any of them for you?